fear and loathing

Fear and Loathing in California

(a dp writing challenge, Gonzo style)

not a true story, but based on actual events

Dude tells me to call him Dude. It may be his actual name but I can’t be certain. As far as I can tell the word dude constitutes about fifty percent of his spoken vocabulary. Dude is wearing a shirt that says Stoned with a picture of rocks on it, like it’s not obvious enough. Trying to have a conversation with Dude is like speaking to an echo. There is a five second delay between the question and response, and usually he just repeats the question back with a slightly altered emphasis. Dude may have hearing loss or terminal brain damage or both, his synapses clogged with resin and his ears stuffed with gummi bears. He’s sucking on a straw and holding a cup of soda so enormous it should have a diving board attached. I’m betting there’s more than just soda in there.

“Well, Dude,” I tell him, “you can’t loiter here,” and he gives me a blank stare punctuated by squints and blinks. It takes a few seconds for my words to filter into his auditory process, draining in slowly between the charcoal and other crispy obstructions in his brain.

“Dude, I never litter.” He looks at the ground around him to confirm his  own report. There is a backpack at his feet, and a sign scrawled on cardboard that reads Need Money 4 Weed. Tied to the backpack is a tiny puppy that looks like it might actually be a fluffy, battery operated toy. “Those butts aren’t mine, dude,” he says. “I don’t smoke that poison, dude.”